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Account of the life and art of james edward hervey macdonald

November 22nd 2016 Provenance: Collection of Albert H. The Art of J. It is thought that this artwork was likely a gift from MacDonald to Robson during that time.

A Hill Path, High Park by James Edward Hervey MacDonald

Soon after honeymooning with his new wife, Harriet Joan Lavis, in 1899, MacDonald rented a small cottage on Quebec Avenue near High Park, eventually building a permanent home on the same street.

The area offered MacDonald acres of all manner of landscape from wooded areas, open fields and bodies of water to explore a range of artistic opportunities for the young artist in all seasons.

The rolling hills of the park were a prominent fixture in his works of High Park allowing the artist to examine a layered landscape rather than the flat horizons of traditional landscape art. Forced perspective positions the viewer at the base of the hill, hidden within the treeline gazing up at the picturesque landscape as the path narrows and disappears into the distance. Importantly, there is the introduction of figures in this early work. The mother and child stroll up the path in the distance, perhaps returning home at the close of their afternoon in the park.

Here, there is the suggestion of narrative, but the figures act more as an element of the landscape rather than the central focus of the composition. MacDonald was born in Durham, England in 1873 of Canadian parents.

J. E. H. MacDonald

He took evening art classes at the Hamilton Art School as a teenager, before relocating to Toronto. From 1894, he worked as a graphic designer at Grip Ltd. In 1903, he sailed for England and joined Carlton Studios, a London graphic firm.

On his return to Canada in 1907 he rejoined Grip and began to paint the landscape near Toronto. Around this time, Tom Thomson joined the Grip staff.

Tracks and Traffic by James Edward Hervey MacDonald

Johnston joined a short time later. These artists found that they had much in common and began going on sketching trips as a group. In 1910, he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Canadian Academy. By 1912, all the original members of the Group of Seven had met and were sketching quite regularly together.

MacDonald was devastated by the accidental drowning of Tom Thomson in 1917. He designed a brass plaque to Thomson's memory which was mounted to a cairn erected at Canoe Lake. The first official Group of Seven exhibition took place in May of 1920. MacDonald accepted a teaching position at the Ontario College of Art in 1921 and was appointed as principal in 1929. He continued to go on painting trips, but his teaching responsibilities sapped his energies and he did few large canvases during this time.

He died in Toronto in 1932.